Certificate Learning Objectives:

  • Goal 1: To have a solid skill base for the assessment and development of research design strategies in light of contemporary psychedelic research priorities.
  • Goal 2: To understand the science and cross-cultural underpinnings behind the potential clinical efficacy of the use of psychedelics for the treatment of medical conditions, as well as for the enhancement of creativity and for personal development.
  • Goal 3: To understand the foundational aspects of neuroscience, neuropharmacology and psychopharmacology pertaining to psychedelic medicines.
  • Goal 4: To develop specialized clinical knowledge and skill in guiding others through alternate states of consciousness in a clinical research setting.
  • Goal 5: To attain competence as a clinician with understanding and skills in the creation of appropriate set and setting for psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy research.

"Alienation from nature and the loss of the experience of being part of the living creation is the greatest tragedy of our materialistic era. It is the causative reason for ecological devastation and climate change. Therefore I attribute absolute highest importance to consciousness change. I regard psychedelics as catalyzers for this. They are tools which are guiding our perception toward other deeper areas of our human existence, so that we again become aware of our spiritual essence. Psychedelic experiences in a safe setting can help our consciousness open up to this sensation of connection and of being one with nature.  ....  It is my great concern to separate psychedelics from the ongoing debates about drugs, and to highlight the potential inherent to these substances for self-awareness, as an adjunct in therapy, and for fundamental research into the human mind. It is my wish that a modern Eleusis will emerge, in which seeking humans can learn to have transcendent experiences with sacred substances in a safe setting. I am convinced that these soul-opening, mind-revealing substances will find their appropriate place in our society and our culture."       

                         --Albert Hofmann, in a letter from April, 2007 

Hybrid Residential and Online Curriculum:

The 180-hour certificate program includes 5 long weekends in the San Francisco Bay Area at CIIS; a 7-day residential Bay Area retreat in June; 35 hours of mentoring and volunteer work; and 25 online hours of review of instructional videos of the didactic modules. Thus, this well-organized hybrid academic program entails 120 hours of residential study in the San Francisco Bay Area and 60 hours of study and practice at home. Such a hybrid program enables trainees from outside of California to more readily participate in the training program.

Supervision and Learning Assessments:

Students will work with a clinical mentor who has experience in psychedelic-assisted and/or entactogen-assisted psychotherapy research or in related areas of clinical expertise. The mentor-supervisor will meet with the students once per month for professional mentoring. Our mentors are licensed clinicians and well known researchers with expertise in this area of study. Students will also be supervised in their experiential practice sessions in guiding one another. Certificate students will also be supervised and trained during role-play sessions in dyadic training.

Students will write a journal that reflects their personal and professional learning during the process of the certificate. They will be encouraged to hold the process of engagement with the curriculum as a time of personal transformation. Students will write monthly process/reaction papers as a method of making meaning of their experience. As part of the culmination of the training, students will write a final process paper that summarizes their learning in the certificate.

Take a look at a Summary of the Certificate: Download the 2020 Information Packet 

The 180 Hour Certificate Curricular Modules of Study

(Click on each box below to get full details)

Research Foundations (15 Hours)

Renaissance in Research: Psychedelic-Assisted & Entactogen-Assisted Therapy 4 hours
  • Definitions of entactogens, psychedelics, hallucinogens, entheogens & empathogens
  • Confluence of psychedelic exploration, Eastern & Western spirituality during the 1950s & 1960s
  • Re-emergence of research in mid-80s & resurgence in 1990s
  • Brief history of psilocybin, MDMA, LSD, ibogaine, ketamine & ayahuasca research
  • Research on enhancement of creativity, meaning in life, and spiritual & mystical experiences
Pharmacology & Neuroscience  8 hours
  • Neuroscience, brain structures & brain imagery
  • Basic science of pharmacology & behavioral pharmacology
  • Cell biology and biochemistry, as related to these medicines
Legal Issues and Regulatory Processes 3 hours
  • Brief history of the scheduling of these medicines
  • Legal status of psychedelics & entactogens
  • Regulatory processes: FDA, DEA & State Research Advisory Panels
  • Institutional Review Board role for clinical research

Practices for Transformation of Consciousness (10 Hours)

Sacraments, Wisdom Traditions, Shamanism & Mystical Experiences 7 hours
  • Traditions for expansion of consciousness: meditation, yoga, dance, ceremony & ritual, fasting, solo wilderness journeys, etc.
  • Overview of shamanic uses of ayahuasca, ibogaine, peyote, San Pedro, salvia divinorum, mushrooms & other healing plants
  • Cross-cultural ceremonial use of psychedelics & plant medicines
  • Sacraments, spiritual usage & mystical experiences
  • Religious studies, entactogens & psychedelics
  • Ego strength, ego transcendence & transformational processes
Psychedelics & Entactogens: Community, Spirituality & Wellness 3 hours
  • Reparation, harm reduction & benefit enhancement: socio-cultural controversies, education & religion
  • Ecopsychology & plant medicine: traditional uses for individual & planetary health
  • Quality of life enhancement: vibrant community & the betterment of well people
  • Complementary medicine issues: nutrition & integrative approaches

Therapist Competencies and Therapeutic Processes (30 Hours)

Core Competencies & Healing Presence of Therapist Guide      8 hours
  • Primary therapeutic competencies for this work
  • Presence, empathy & non-directive support
  • Clergy, Chaplaincy & spiritual guidance insights
  • Methods & insights from psycholytic treatments
  • Psychedelic therapeutic methods vs. traditional verbal or somatic therapies
  • Skills of an effective co-therapist guide; on-site clinical research training strategies
Meaning Making: Preparation 6 hours
  • Role of preparation for optimal sessions
  • Medical and psychological pre-assessments & contraindications
  • Traditions of preparation: journaling, fasting, body work, & intention setting
  • Therapeutic skills for the preparation process
  • How personalities of the therapist guide & participant impact the process
Ethics, Safety Issues and Support Skills 5 hours
  • Ethics guidelines for therapists
  • I-Thou relationship with research volunteers & co-therapists
  • Creation & maintenance of healthy boundaries
  • Risk and protective factors
  • Contraindications for being a therapist guide & researcher
  • Set and setting of sessions: safety, agreements, intentions & comfort
  • Role of touch & non-verbal expression
  • Handling of music & sound healing in sessions
Acute Distress: Challenging Processes & Adverse Effects 4 hours
  • In-session acute distress & challenging shifts of consciousness
  • Medical & psychological emergency response protocols
  • Interventions for distress & adverse effects of MDMA, psilocybin, LSD, etc.
Integration: Practices & Goals 7 hours
  • Integration sessions: purpose & optimal outcomes
  • Steps of integration as practiced by various therapists & researchers
  • Integration skills: nuanced facilitating of the inner healer vs. orchestrating or imposing  theoretical models
  • Multicultural traditions for the integration of entactogen & psychedelic transformations
  • Use of plant medicines for staying connected and responsive to the earth
  • Relationship of self & community in mystical & spiritual meaning making

Experience of Guiding & Being Guided in Expanded States of Consciousness (25 Hours)

Holotropic Breathwork weekend retreat with Diane Haug
Role-plays of actual psychedelic-assisted sessions
Guided imagery, expressive artwork & self-hypnosis
Drumming & rattling inductions
Sample Optional Experiences
  • Solo wilderness experience and/or sweat lodge 
  • Flotation tank or dance improvisation
  • 3-10 day meditation retreat or yoga retreat intensives
  • Hakomi or other somatic-based intensives

Online Learning: Research, Pharmacology, Therapist Competencies & Ethics (25 Hours)

Observation of Selected Instructional Videos
  • Videos of course modules taught by Heffter and MAPS researchers & other scholars   
  • Trainees summarize main points of each module

En Vivo & Archival Instruction (45 Hours)

Observation and discussion of specific MAPS and Heffter therapy session videos
  • 7-day June retreat with the Mithoefers of MAPS
  • In-class review of Heffter research participant videos

Mentoring & Professional Development (30 hours)

Mentoring and Individual Supervision  10 hours
  • Each student will work with a mentor from the program mentor list of clinically oriented or clergy members on the Council of Advisors, certificate teachers and international scholars. These mentors are advanced practitioners in their area of expertise. 
  • The mentor & supervisee will use video conferencing or meet in person for 5-6 hours during the certificate program.
  • This mentoring meeting will occur approximately once per month. Professional development discussions, assessments & confidential integration of learning will occur in supervision.
  • Personal therapy or spiritual guidance is encouraged for integrating the learning during the certificate work. The student will be asked to do so, if it is indicated for the student's continued personal and professional development.

Lifestyle Values: Mentor-Trainee Dialogue

  • Self-care for therapists: transference, secondary trauma & counter-transference
  • Living within opportunities & limits set by protocols and research traditions
  • Learning from mistakes & utilizing supervision well
  • Personal journaling during certificate coursework
Applications of Learning 20 hours
  • Students will volunteer for 20 hours or more in a setting with special populations such as: hospice, suicide hotline, rehabilitation center, the hotline for the Spiritual Emergence Network, a Crisis Response Team or the ER, the Zendo or Full Circle Tea House at festivals, and/or serve as an adherence or fidelity rater for HRI or MAPS.
  • Students may petition to replace some of their volunteer work with optional Module 4 experiences, if they have had ample experience in working with people in clinically difficult states of consciousness. This will be determined in dialogue with their mentor and Janis Phelps.
  • The goal of this requirement is to enhance students' appreciation for being of service and to experience a practice of their learning while in the certificate. This application of learning can be started during the summer break.

Need to Contact Us?

CIIS Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research
1453 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Dr. Cathy Coleman
CPTR Admissions Manager | Certificate Manager
Email: ccoleman@ciis.edu
Phone: (415) 575-6261

Dr. Laura Pustarfi
Associate Director of the Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies and Research Certificate Program
Email: lpustarfi@ciis.edu
Phone: (415) 575-6243

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